Back home from L.A. Hellanback's habits changed. Time formerly
spent in bars was passed at home reading the Bible. Although it
was fashionable to believe "the Bible is the infallible word
of God," Hellanback remained skeptical of anything in print.
He read the Koran, the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Uppanishads, Dharamapada,
whatever versions of the "Word of God" he could find.
He read biblical commentaries and contemporary suppositionals,
considering conventional academic, or pseudo-academic, theories.
One thing led to another; he found himself dabbling in the Kabalah
and other esoteric writings, studying an Ephemeris to investigate
the astronomical and mathematical bases of astronomy, which peaked
his interest upon learning that the origins of astrology had been
lost in antiquity. Similarly, he was intrigued by a dozen or so
books about the Great Pyramid at Gizah. It seemed this particular
pyramid was a very large, mathematically.astounding, pile of stone
-- well known since the time of the most ancient of historians
-- and yet -- notwithstanding a wealth of academic theories --
no one really knows from whence it originated.
Among "Words of God" his strong preference was
for the Bible. Cultural prejudice may have contributed to his
fondness, but the story in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John held
an independent sense of simple reason and pure sanity. To Hellanback's
mind whether Jesus' miracles were figurative or literal was unimportant:
Jesus' words cut crystal logic.
There came a day, during the five o'clock news, when Hellanback
sat reading the Sermon on the Mount. As usual the TV was reporting
wars, crime, famine, and suffering. Hellanback perceived that
monetary considerations figured largely in each of the reported
situations. The media together with the words of Jesus pierced
"Behold the birds of the air; they neither sow nor
reap nor gather into barns, yet the Father provides for them...
therefore, I say unto you, take no thought for tomorrow, or what
you will eat, drink, or put on; rather seek first the things of
the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else you need will be added unto
you. Take no thought for tomorrow for the evil of today is sufficient."
Despite the fact the news had been reminding him of the
same evils daily for as long as he could remember, Hellanback
realized he almost never gave those issues much thought. Most
of his time was devoted to enjoying today as best possible, and
thinking about how to make more money so tomorrow would be more
enjoyable than today.
It seemed that if Jesus was "the Truth," then
Hellanback was living the life of a selfish unbeliever. But he
had some doubts. The system said "You need money to live."
People often repeated, "You can't change the system."
Often interpretations of certain biblical writers seemed
to complicate the simple truth of Jesus' words. Paul wrote, "The
love of money is the root of evil." A child knows that the
opposite of "love" is "hate," and the reverse
of "evil" is "good." If Paul was correct,
Hellanback concluded, the hatred of money would be the root of
much good. He was forced to reassess the delivery process of his
daily bread. If money WAS the root of, if not all, at least a
great deal of evil, and people needed money to live, it seemed
evil must be necessary to live, and Jesus must be talking nonsense
in opposition to the truth of the world monetary system.
And what about fear? It began to seem that every night
the TV brought new tales of murder and mayhem. On the international
scene there were regular stories painting Arabs as a cruel, bloodthirsty,
inhuman tribe of terrorists.
On all fronts "security" was constantly being
"beefed up." On all fronts the violence escalated.
Was the answer: "Love your enemy" because "If
you don't love your neighbor, whom you have seen, you can not
love God, whom you have not seen?" Or was it: "Enhanced
Firepower" because "In God we trust; all others pay
The energy Hellanback had once spent in drinking and smoking
was rechanneled. Sundown-to-sundown, one day each week he religiously
devoted himself to study. Hellanback's search for spiritual understanding
brought no peace to his own household. He had more to say, but
he and Donna were talking less, unable to find any common ground
other than TV, meals, and ever less frequent and passionless sex.
To still the storm after a petty squabble over yardwork one Sabbath,
Hellanback suggested they go out to dinner.
"I'm embarrassed to go to a restaurant with you any
more," Donna snapped.
"Since you've stopped eating meat ... it's just embarrassing
"But you used to say that I'd be perfect if I'd just
stop drinking and driving fast. Now I've taken it a couple of
steps further. I can't understand why you wouldn't be even more
"I think I liked you better the way you were."
If knowledge would enable him to communicate with his wife,
he still hadn't found it.